Catching Up On The First Three Episodes Of “Stranger Things 2”

There’s more than corn in Indiana.
And just like that, we’re back in Hawkins. Oh, wait … we’re in Pittsburgh. What?

The opening of the first episode of season two sends us a hair to the east with a group of punk/Goth robbers, one of whom has the ability to create the optical illusion of a tunnel collapse to evade the cops. Plus, she’s got an 8 tattoo on her wrist—a link to Hawkins’s lab and our girl Eleven. Color us intrigued.

Cue the synth music and the floating credits (oh, how we missed thee!) and now we’re back in a happy Stranger Things place.

Over the course of the next three episodes, we check back in with our favorite Hawkins residents. Here’s the rundown:

  • It’s Halloween 1984, just about a year after the events of season one, and our fearless foursome of Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas are all geared up in Ghostbusters uniforms. But it turns out, nobody in middle school dresses up anymore except our nerd posse. Awww. But they’re so cute! And luckily, Dustin’s ghost catcher will come in handy later.
  • As we feared, Will is not really back from the Upside Down and gets mysteriously transported there during inopportune moments, like when the guys are playing the ’80s staple arcade game Dragon’s Lair. Let’s just say, the kid is not all right and his friends are starting to notice.
  • The Terminator is playing at the Hawk Theater.
  • There’s a new family in town, and they could be serious trouble. The girl is a skateboarding tomboy, aka Madmax, who immediately catches the eye of a bumbling Lance and Dustin—and holds the top score in Dig Dug. And her brother? Well, he is something else altogether—more on him in a minute.
  • A curly-haired Eleven is living in a cabin where she eats TV dinners with Hopper, who is maybe/probably using her as a substitute for his dead daughter. But at least she’s got a TV to learn from like Daryl Hannah in Splash, and somebody to talk to—at least when he shows up as promised. In a Poltergeist homage, she’s also using the TV static to try to talk to Mike with mixed results. By the end of the third episode, she’s out of the woods and terrifying women and small children with a swing set after seeing Mike with Max. Jealousy is a real bitch, especially for adolescents with crazy kinetic abilities. Needless to say, SHE’S BACK.
  • There’s a reporter sniffing around and talking about Russian conspiracies. Hmmmm, that sure sounds familiar.
  • Will’s new lab doctor is none other than Paul Reiser.
  • Joyce Byers has a new boyfriend and he really loves Mom and is too goofy to be true. Calling it now, I think he’s a bad guy.
  • Dustin catches a slimy reptile (see above: Ghostbusters costume) that almost certainly is connected to that slug Will coughed up at the end of the first season. He is blinded by affection for this creeper he’s named “Dart”, so he can’t kill him like he most definitely should. Now that thing is on the loose and going evil like a Gremlin who’s eaten after midnight.
  • Steve’s in love with Nancy. Nancy’s not so sure. Plus, she’s feeling mad guilt over Barb and the fact that her BFF’s parents don’t know what really happened to her. She handles this like so many teens before her—getting blackout drunk on some sort of punch concoction at a house party while dressed as Rebecca DeMornay from Risky Business. Now she might be ready to tell Barb’s ‘rents the truth, with some help from emo Jonathan Byers.

Hoosier Hysteria: Spot the Indiana Vibes

  • Rudy! Joyce’s new boyfriend, Bob, is played by Sean Astin, who is also the OG Goonie. He definitely seems as earnest as our favorite Irish bench player, but like I said … something feels off.
  • Hopper’s Cabin: It’s giving me Brown County vibes and I like it.
  • The New Bad Boy in Town: We now have a Johnny Cougar stand-in and his name is Billy. He’s all double denim, Jack & Diane mullet, and serious attitude.
  • Don’t you wish we could see some old-school Indiana commercials while Eleven is watching All My Children? How about an Indiana Beach spot? I can just hear it now: “There’s more than corn in Indiaaaaaaaaana!”
  • Dustin’s family has a “Mondale for President” sign in their yard. See, there are Democrats in small towns in the heartland!

What were your favorite parts? Did we miss any local flavor?